IFJ Supports Nepal Protests over Murder of Uma Singh

The

Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and other professional journalists’ organisations

united on January 13 in nation-wide protests over the murder of Uma Singh. The

print and broadcast journalist, aged in her mid-20s, was murdered in Janakpur

in south-eastern Nepal

on January 11.

 

“The IFJ joins

the FNJ and all journalists in Nepal

in expressing outrage and grief at the brutal murder of Uma Singh”, the IFJ’s

Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park, said.

 

“We call

upon high-level authorities in Nepal

to enter into good faith talks with the FNJ and all other relevant bodies to

improve the media freedom situation in the country.”

 

According

to the FNJ, an IFJ affiliate, Janakpur town shut down on January 13 as

thousands of its citizens joined in Uma Singh’s funeral procession. All radio

stations in the surrounding districts suspended their programming to run

tributes to her life and work.

 

The FNJ noted

that police had reportedly made four arrests for the murder, which took place

at Uma Singh’s home and involved an estimated 15 persons, armed with knives and

other lethal weapons. The identities of those apprehended have not been

revealed, ostensibly because that would compromise further investigation.

 

At a press

conference in Kathmandu on January 14, the FNJ

released its preliminary findings on the murder.

 

The FNJ believes

it is possible that the people responsible for the disappearance of Uma Singh’s

father and brother three years ago may have committed the murder to cover their

trail.

 

Uma Singh’s

father and brother were abducted in 2006 before the ceasefire agreement between

the Maoist insurgents and the then royal government of Nepal came into

force. They are now believed to be dead.

 

Maoist

cadres are believed to have been behind the abductions. In recent months, Uma Singh

had written articles fiercely critical of the state of lawlessness in her

region of Nepal,

on account of the continuing operations of various armed groups.

 

The FNJ is

engaged in discussions with Nepal’s

top leadership over pursuing all available leads and bringing the perpetrators

of this heinous crime to justice.

 

The FNJ

has also placed before the head of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly a

demand for an all-party committee to inquire urgently into all issues with a

bearing on media freedom and safety.

 

The IFJ

fully endorses the demand by the FNJ and its other affiliates in Nepal that the

authorities initiate swift and accountable action in this case and send a clear

message that attacks on journalists and media freedom will not be tolerated.

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The

IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries